Victim of alleged rape sues UNM

Crusoe Gongbay, Ryan Ruff SaQuan Edwards

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – The woman who says two football players raped her is now suing the University of New Mexico, saying it put its football program ahead of a thorough investigation.

Last April, a freshman student said she was raped by three men – football players SaQwan Edwards and Crusoe Gongbay, and CNM student Ryan Ruff. The charges were dropped over the summer.

The lawsuit comes two months after the Department of Justice announced they are investigating the university’s handling of sexual assault.
The woman’s attorneys say they believe the criminal charges against the men were dropped because of pressure from UNM’s Athletic Department and that the University’s main focus was getting the players back on the field.

The lawsuit alleges that the coach did not notify UNM’s Title IX coordinator of the allegations, once they were made aware of them. Instead, it says an assistant football coach got involved, calling UNMPD to say Gongbay had an alibi – which later didn’t hold up. It also says the Athletic Department knew SaQwan Edwards was the other suspect, but didn’t report it to UNMPD.

It also points out the coaches announced the players were back on the team in August – two weeks before the Office of Equal Opportunity sent their first findings letter to the woman, saying there was no probable cause. The attorneys say the timing suggests the football program either didn’t care their was an open investigation on the players, or they already knew what the results of that investigation would be.

It also questions UNM’s hiring of a new OEO director, two months after the allegations surfaced. In a press release, new hire Bryan Brock said he was honored to be at UNM because his “dad played football for the Lobos.” Brock has since resigned.

No one at UNM would talk, but the University sent a statement, saying it takes “sexual violence allegations very seriously.”

The accused UNM football players also announced their intentions to sue UNM for its handling of the investigation in December. The attorney for the accused men says he’s planning on filing the lawsuit against UNM in the next few weeks.

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